Searching for Gold


“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”-Plutarch, Greek historianleo

I’ve learned a healthy way to assess my reactions to my mistakes:

I look for compassionate curiosity. Anything else is self-degradation, a natural power stripper that robs me of the chance to be my best self, and to serve at the highest level possible.

In my research at work yesterday, I discovered the benefits of viewing child rearing and education as talent and strength management, a simple organizational task designed to support the privilege of shepherding the next great whatever (teacher, mom, sports player, actor, businessperson, easy-going person, or maybe just a compassion generator) into adulthood, rather than a moral imperative ( aka a shaming opportunity), or a chance to pour our ideas and expectations into someone else.

It is literally insane that we make all children learn the same stuff, and that we punish schools and teachers who fail in this mass memorization task. The fact that poor children get LESS access and rich children more, is the sign of our collective mental illness.

I read several studies that proved that technology is most effective in the poorest or most rural communities where the kids don’t have it at home. (Researchers placed a computer in poverty stricken community schools in India. They offered no additional instruction or support. 90 days later, the students had taught themselves English, and were engaging with educational websites to learn science, math and other skills.)

In wealthier communities, children are sometimes harmed by technology and “soft” teachers in school, as they are often distracted and overwhelmed by unlimited privilege and access in their life.

My favorite colleague and I discussed the idea that there must be a middle path, between the extreme communist idea of assessing skills and then insisting that a person be an athlete or a public servant for a lifetime, and our Western way of “you can be anything you want.”

I wonder what it would be like to intentionally keep pre-packaged knowledge and experiences away from children until they entered a certain grade. What if we cared more about protecting uniqueness than teaching conformity?

What if our only job as parents, educators and citizens was to find the gold in each and every person, and bring it out?

Instead of shaming someone for talking in a line, what if someone said, “Hey, she loves to talk and make up stories-let’s put her on the track to speaking and writing!” What if we actually encouraged a talker to talk MORE? What if the restless child was motivated to move faster and more frequently? What if the shy bookworm was praised for spending time in quite aloneness and introspection? What if the angry young man was encouraged to be mad as hell and stand up for something that mattered? What if we admitted that poor children need to develop the ability to learn and make it on their own, and offered them access to educational technology? What if abused children were taught about the gifts engendered by their enhanced empathy?

What if we encouraged standing out, rather than fitting in?

What if the things that are wrong with you are actually the source of your greatness?

At my high school graduation, a nun told me that I “looked like an unmade bed.” I still remember, and feel, the sting of that remark.

Now, I see my attention deficit as an important part of a remarkable, endless creative drive. Yes, it takes some managing (a million hours of yoga, medicine sometimes, therapy, meditation, prayer, self-awareness, and most especially, noticing and letting go of shame), but I wouldn’t trade places with a “normie” for anything.

We are all special.

Loving myself is the single most important task I can take on, as it is the only way that I can love you. And you, no matter who you are, earned my love (and your love) the day you arrived as my brother or sister human being.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” could be translated, in my very humble opinion, as “You will (or you can only)do unto others as you do unto you, and others can only do to you as they are doing unto themselves.”

If you are engaging in self-shaming or self-degradation, consider that you might be doing the same unto others.

Love you to love others. (Let’s teach each other to love ourselves exactly as we are right now.)

Just love you. (yes even THAT part of you!)

Thank you so much for reading my post.

( and Seamus Ford, I want to say again that you were so right-I do find each and every human fascinating – truly the gift of a lifetime-thank you.)

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